Power and Leveraging in a Disability Context
This chapter explores the dynamic of use of power by subordinate groups particularly persons with disability, through leveraging their vulnerable status, and argues for a healthy use of power and agency. People with disability have often been viewed as “dependent”, a burden or victims of a “personal tragedy” and have remained marginalized and invisible in the society. Consequently, the notion of a person with an impairment having “agency” or having power in any shape or form including the most basic form of having power over oneself is difficult to imagine. This notion has led to persons with disability systematically being conditioned to become “helpless” and dependent. However, this paper argues through the use of illustrations and anecdotal evidence that developing an understanding of disability as “socially constructed” is essential to realize personal power for persons with disability. Persons with disability no matter how disenfranchised they are have the potential ability to exercise the “power within” to become empowered themselves and also work towards empowering others both disabled and non-disabled. This may be done by partnering with others in positive ways to co-create power rather than using power in negative ways by leveraging their disability.
KeywordsPower Agency Leverage Disability Abilities Partnering
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